Au Revoir: A Tribute to Joseph A. Smith, Jr., and His Contributions to The Journal of Urology®
By: D. Robert Siemens, MD, FRCSC | Posted on: 01 Jan 2022
I have had the tremendous honor of spending all of 2021 learning from Dr. Smith about what it means to be Editor of The Journal of Urology®. I am not necessarily a stranger to such a role, having served as the Editor-in-Chief of The Canadian Urological Association Journal. However, the heavy lift that defines the Editor position of this most prestigious medical journal, The Journal of Urology®, means I have had a lot to absorb, and I am so fortunate to have spent this year learning by Dr. Smith’s side.
As soon as January 2021 rolled around, Dr. Smith took his assignment to train me in all things “JU” very seriously. He graciously included me in every single staff call and Editorial Board meeting. He CC’ed me on important correspondences regarding editorial decisions, not only sharing his considerations for the sometimes very difficult evaluations, but also the grace that went into his communications with authors and members of the editorial team. He shared the history of The Journal from his perspective, but more importantly, he shared his vision for it. He gave me insight into what he thinks and how he works. He prepared me for what will undoubtedly be a very challenging yet exceptionally rewarding job. For those who know him well, it will come as no surprise how incredibly hard he works as Editor, but he never skimped in his attention to including me in the process. He answered every question I had, and he even anticipated ones I didn’t realize I had.
A valuable way to measure an individual is by what people say about him when he is not around. Something that really stands out to me about Dr. Smith is how beloved he is by the AUA’s Editorial Office staff. They truly respect him and look up to him. They have valued working with him and have told me countless times how much they will miss him when he steps down as Editor. Just a few superlative quotes I have heard directly from the AUA staff with whom he interacts: “extremely responsive,” “brilliant,” “wonderful to work with” and (to me, most telling) “kind.” I know the staff will miss Dr. Smith, and after getting to know him over the last year (despite being solely virtual), I will count Dr. Smith as an important mentor over my career.
In his December 2021 editorial, Dr. Smith reflected back on the time he served as Editor.1 His tenure is truly remarkable. He maintained The Journal’s commitment to publishing manuscripts representative of all domains of urology. He introduced the JU Forum feature. He proposed the concept of a Statistical Board, which was approved by the AUA’s Board of Directors and has further elevated the premier status of The Journal’s editorial and peer review processes. Dr. Smith conceptualized and introduced the 1-page JU Insights, self-written by authors to offer their unique perspectives on their research. Dr. Smith increased the Journal Impact Factor year over year, ending with a remarkable 26% increase to 7.45 as reported in June 2021.
Reading back over Dr. Smith’s editorials over the years, I am reminded not only of his knowledge as a physician, scientist and researcher, but of his commitment to doing what is right. In his October 2021 editorial, Dr. Smith introduced the concept of open peer review and announced that The Journal would embrace its principles.2 His commitment to transparency into the editorial process is brave and novel, and I look forward to shepherding the evolution of open peer review into the future. In October 2020, he wrote about author-friendly publication in The Journal.3 Certainly, JU offers so much reach for our authors, with the most social media followers in all of urology and the most citations of articles. In February 2017, Dr. Smith reflected on the 100-year anniversary of The Journal.4 As he said at that time, “One thing will not change. The reason The Journal of Urology® exists and why it has endured for 100 years is that its primary focus is on helping patients.” Dr. Smith’s assessment was exactly right and will lead us into the next 100 years of The Journal.
As of January 2022, Dr. Smith will have more time for the things I know he holds most dear: his family and his humanitarian work. I look forward to hearing about his adventures with his grandchildren and his humanitarian-related travels, and I hear he has already committed to writing an AUANews Out of Office article about his first planned trip to Africa since COVID-19 restrictions grounded him. Although Dr. Smith was a truly amazing Editor, he is an even better human being. As he titled that December editorial, indeed, “The Next Chapter in a Good Story” will be fulfilling and enriching.
I know I can count on Dr. Smith even when he no longer holds the Editor crown. He is known for his fair, honest and knowledgeable peer review. He dispenses great advice and does so without judgment or reserve. I look forward to continued collaboration and friendship with Dr. Smith. He has been the best possible steward of the AUA’s most treasured resource, The Journal, and I pledge to carry on his legacy of dedication and hard work on behalf of our community. This is not goodbye, Dr. Smith. Thank you for all you did and will continue to do for The Journal of Urology®.
- Smith JA Jr: The next chapter in a good story. J Urol 2021; 206: 1356.
- Smith JA Jr: Determination of the worthiness for publication. J Urol 2021; 206: 802.
- Smith JA Jr: Author friendly publication in The Journal. J Urol 2020; 204: 645.
- Smith JA Jr: The Journal of Urology®: 100 years of progress, accomplishments and contributions. J Urol 2017; 197: 276.